Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo met with reporters on Saturday to discuss the decision to option right-handed reliever Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse, but the Nats' 52-year-old General Manager and Executive VP of Baseball Ops also fielded a few questions about right-handed starter Taylor Jordan's innings limit, the Nationals' plans heading into this Wednesday's Non-Waiver Trade Deadline and one potential option for the Nats' next manager since Davey Johnson's still expected to leave the Nationals' bench at the end of this season.
Taylor Jordan, 24, makes his sixth major league start of the year this afternoon in Nationals Park, but he's on an innings limit in his first full year following Tommy John surgery. Davey Johnson told reporters earlier this week that Jordan had about 20-30 innings left this season, but the Nats' GM was non-committal when asked when Jordan would be shut down. "We’ve got parameters in mind for Taylor Jordan," Rizzo said, "and when we feel that he’s done pitching, we’re going to shut him down."
In spite of the fact that Jordan will be shut down and Ross Detwiler is battling a back issue, the Nationals aren't necessarily looking for pitching as the deadline approaches, however. Asked directly if starting pitching was on the list of things the Nationals were discussing, Rizzo would only say that there have been plenty of phone calls placed and received. "I’m not going to go much more into it than that," Rizzo told reporters, "other than we’re going to do what we do at every trade deadline. We’re going to try to improve this ballclub for 2013 and beyond."
As for specific areas of improvement, Rizzo said, "... it’s the same assessment that we’ve had for the last month or so. We feel good about our core players and we feel that we’re solid at our position players, we like our rotation, we like our bullpen arms. If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack. But we’ve got ourselves a pretty talented group of guys that we’re committed to and we like where we’re at."
Nationals continue search for LH Bench Bat….not expected to make a major deal— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 28, 2013
It doesn't seem like the Nationals' current situation, three games under .500 after 105 games, 8.5 back in the NL East and 8.0 back in the Wild Card race is going to be a big factor in the Nationals' decision-making process over the next four days. As Rizzo and Davey Johnson have stated repeatedly over the last few years, they make moves with both today and the future in mind.
"We’re always worried about this year and beyond," Rizzo reiterated, "We never make decisions based on the current season alone, so that hasn’t changed since I’ve taken over as GM. We’re always thinking about this year, improving ourselves this year, but when we improve ourselves this year it will be this year and beyond."
The Nationals' GM also assured reporters that in spite of the turmoil of the last few days, he had no plans to replace Davey Johnson on the bench. "There is no chance that he won’t be the manager until the end of the season," Rizzo said. As for next season? Rizzo was asked if the Nats' current bench coach Randy Knorr, who took over for a few innings this week when Johnson got ejected, is considered a candidate to become the Nationals' next manager?
"I think that he’s certainly a manager-caliber," Rizzo responded, "He’s a manager candidate and he has a lot of manager capabilities and we love having him on the staff." Johnson, who is expected to help in the process of picking the next manager was asked this week if he thought Knorr would make a good manager.
"I think he's managed at Triple-A," Johnson said, "My requirements, and I got in trouble for voicing them with a couple of my other managers around the league -- when somebody asked me what is the criteria for being a manager, I said, 'The ideal is to manage in your system so you know the talent in your system,' and that's the criteria. Some guys that were coaches that have never managed took offense at what I said, but I was talking about the ideal guy."